With the number of COVID-19 infected rising 50 percent in Wharton County this week, local officials are urging residents to follow the governor’s order to stay home whenever possible.

“We need to keep these numbers low by only traveling out for essential work or to retrieve essential goods,” El Campo Mayor Randy Collins said.

Nine people in Wharton County had tested positive for COVID-19 as of presstime, although one is a 50-year-old Wharton man currently convalescing in San Antonio.

An additional four tests were pending as of press time with 71 completed tests showing negative results.

There’s still no indication the pandemic is showing any sign of peaking in the United States.

“Our front line of defense is to stay home,” County Judge Phillip Spenrath said.

The current stay-at-home order lasts through the end of the month, but is not as stringent as the orders issued in Houston and other major metro areas.

Regardless of the wording of individual orders, the goal is safety.

“It is of utmost importance that our citizens heed this order to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” El Campo City Manager Courtney Sladek said. “Each of us has a responsibility to reduce the risk, prevent the spread and protect ourselves from the rising number of cases in our county.”

Both city and county offices are still operational, although both have shut down public access to offices.

Wharton County is completely surrounded by other counties with COVID-19 cases. Fort Bend County reports 194 cases, 109 cases in Brazoria County, 35 in Matagorda County, two in Jackson County, one in Lavaca County, two in Colorado County and four in Austin County.

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